Exploring the Security Studies Master’s Degrees at UMass Lowell

Once again, UMass Lowell’s Master’s in Criminal Justice and Security Studies programs was ranked best in the nation for veterans and number two in the country overall by U.S. News & World Report. Unlike the school’s renowned Master’s in Criminal Justice, which focuses on the justice system and law enforcement, the security studies graduate programs emphasize global security risks that threaten companies, countries and communities. These interdisciplinary online programs are taught by faculty members who are highly acclaimed security experts and leaders in the field.

Whether you’re just starting to explore the field or a professional looking to expand your knowledge, this post will help you understand the different master’s degrees and concentrations available through our top-ranked online program.

What is Security Studies?

Security studies is a multidisciplinary field that examines security threats and responses. It encompasses military strategy, terrorism, cybersecurity, infrastructure, human security and more. UMass Lowell’s program provides you with an understanding of the causes of such threats and the ability to develop effective strategies to prevent and respond to them.

Military threats like war, espionage and terrorism are perhaps the most well-known dimension of security studies. However, non-military threats exist, such as cyberattacks and environmental disasters. Human security threats, such as poverty, disease and human rights abuses, also fall under the scope of security studies. Understanding the nature of different security threats is crucial for developing effective strategies to prevent and respond to them, which is why UMass Lowell offers several distinct concentrations to prepare you to effectively combat these disparate challenges.

Depending on the concentration and degree type, graduates of the security studies programs often move on to careers at local, state and federal government agencies. They work at research firms, advanced technology companies and as defense contractors. Security studies is also an important area of study for policymakers, military leaders and anyone interested in understanding the complex challenges facing the world today.

Which Security studies Degree and Concentration Is Right for You?

UMass Lowell offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Security Studies and six concentrations. Although many core courses in these programs are the same, there are key differences between these degrees.

Master of Arts 

The Master of Arts degree will prepare you to think critically and hone your leadership abilities in today’s challenging public security environment. The curriculum emphasizes humanities and social science electives and is well-suited for students who do not have a technical background. The M.A. in Security Studies offers three concentrations: Homeland Defense, International Security and Industrial and Economic Security.

Homeland Defense

Homeland defense is UMass Lowell’s most popular concentration. The course work in this program will help you deepen your understanding of national affairs while positioning yourself for leadership in national security. The curriculum covers issues related to the defense of the United States, including critical infrastructure protection, regional and national security intelligence, land and maritime border protection and the use of new technologies in homeland security practices.

Graduates of the homeland defense concentration are well-positioned to find employment in government agencies, including at the FBI, state departments and the Department of Homeland Security.

Industrial and Economic Security

The industrial and economic security concentration will teach you the scientific and technological approaches to combat advanced security threats to businesses and the U.S. economy. You’ll explore global trafficking, economic crime, energy security, computer network and facility security and the defense industry.

Many private sector jobs are available for graduates of this program. UMass Lowell alums from this concentration have careers in energy security, risk assessment and counterespionage at corporations such as Nike, Exxon, Sony, Shell and Chevron.

International Security

The international security concentration will help you develop an understanding of worldwide organized criminal and terrorist networks. You’ll explore various aspects of terrorism, counterterrorism and diplomatic and defense tactics to resolve global conflicts.

Many jobs are available in the public and private sectors to students who complete the international security concentration. Graduates find careers as intelligence, foreign or defense policy analysts, international security risk assessors, as well as work in energy and aviation security.

Master of Science

Unlike the M.A., the M.S. in Security Studies emphasizes technical skills. This degree is ideal for students who want to deepen their knowledge in a specific field, such as engineering or computer science.  The Master of Science degree offers two fully online concentrations, Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection, and one partially online concentration in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Security.


The cybersecurity curriculum contains many IT courses and addresses the technology, security and human weaknesses that leave organizations vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. Graduates of this program often find positions as cyber investigators, chief information officers, information security analysts, security architects and more.

According to Fortune Education, cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing, well-paying jobs in the country.

Critical Infrastructure Protection

The critical infrastructure protection concentration was designed with engineers in mind and those who must analyze and address infrastructure threats and incidents. Many private sector jobs are available to graduates of this program, including careers as city planners, city engineers, chemical engineers, facility operations specialists and more.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Security (CBRNE)

The CBRNE concentration explores the technical characteristics of weapons and sensor technologies, the dangers of weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands and efforts to confront threats of this nature. Although the core courses for the CBRNE concentration are available online, many of the electives have required labs and hands-on learning opportunities and are available on-campus only.

The Future of Security Studies and Emerging Threats

As the world becomes more interconnected and complex, the field of security studies must adapt to new and emerging threats. Cybersecurity, for example, has become a significant concern as more of our daily activities are conducted online. Climate change is also a growing threat, as it can exacerbate and create new conflicts. The rise of non-state actors, such as terrorist organizations and transnational criminal networks, presents unique challenges to traditional notions of security. Additionally, security professionals will need to contend with the impact of artificial intelligence, weaponized robotics, natural resource depletion and energy security in the years ahead.  As the field of security studies continues to evolve, it will be important to address these emerging threats and develop new strategies for promoting national and global security.

Learn more about the online Security Studies Programs at UMass Lowell